Index Previous Next
Arctic explorers have long wondered why rock, gravel, and sand are so often found on and imbedded in bergs and floes.
Many writers claim that rocks are shoved by glaciers, while at the time adhering to them, till the iceberg drifts against another berg and they freeze together. This is not a reasonable explanation how the rocks came on the ice, as the glacier, after it struck the water, would have to turn on its side to bring the bottom of the berg in a position to come in contact with another berg that must have been grounded or become fast in some other manner. Two icebergs, drifting in the ocean, could not freeze together. That would have to be the case if the rocks got into the middle of the berg, where they are frequently found. Besides, how long would a rock, weighing tons, adhere to the bottom or side of an iceberg? No, that is not the
way they got there. They were thrown into the air by some explosion, and fell on the berg while it was forming.
Some writers assign one cause, some another; each, however, refutes or rejects what his predecessors have explained of the presence of these substances. To me they appear of volcanic origin. Volcanic eruptions send into the air rock, gravel, sand, and dust, which disperse in every direction. Finally they fall upon the bergs at all stages of formation, from the time the stream first freezes over until a berg is plunged into the ocean, and afterward,--if still in the location where they land. When rock is found on an iceberg, it is stated that it generally rests in a pool of water, caused, it is claimed, by the rock drawing heat from the sun. This does not seem nearly so good an explanation as the one that a warm rock lighting upon an iceberg melts the ice, and makes a pool of water very quickly, there being no need to wait for the sun, which may not appear for several months.
Had I the imagination of Shakespeare,
the descriptive power of Homer, and the force and directness of Huxley, then would I paint a picture so vivid and real that no reader of this book would take another view, but would think and see the matter as I do.
We are all limited, however, in our capacity, and must be content to use our gifts as best we may. As soon as one of these facts can be established, the rest must follow. If it can be shown that the rocks found in the icebergs come from an exploding volcano, and that there are no burning volcanoes in the vicinity of the Arctic Ocean, is it not evident, then, that they come from the interior of the earth? When it can also be shown that the conditions are such that no icebergs can be formed on earth, then they must be formed in the interior; for they are certainly formed somewhere. If the material that produces colored snow is a vegetable matter (which the analysis shows), and is supposed to be a blossom or the pollen of a plant, when none such grow in the vicinity of the Arctic
[paragraph continues] Ocean, then it must grow in the interior of the earth; for if it grew elsewhere on earth, then the snow would be colored in other locations as well, which does not seem to be the case.
We might go through a list of more than a dozen hitherto unanswered problems, all pointing in one direction, never conflicting with each other, but each, in turn, strengthening the other, and leaving nothing for the next to explain away. Such a chain of circumstances could not exist on a false theory. Nothing but a fact will stand the test; for facts are stubborn things, and stick out like a sore finger going to a doctor's shop.
The dust, so annoying in the Arctic Ocean, is also produced by volcanic eruptions. Being light, it is carried far away by the wind, and when it falls on the ships is very disagreeable. When it falls with the snow, it produces black snow, and when analyzed, is found to consist of carbon and iron--supposed to come from some burning volcano. Where is that
burning volcano? No record or account of any near the North Pole is found, and if it be anywhere else, why does the dust fall in the Arctic Ocean? The best way to dispose of this rock in the ice, this dust in the ocean, this black snow, the shooting stars, or meteors, and the aurora is to say that they are caused by an exploding volcano. I am willing to call that my answer. If false, it will not stand. If true, it will bear the test of time, and pop up like a cork.
As remarked at the beginning of this chapter, one of the mysteries of Arctic travel has always been how rock, gravel, wood, and dirt get on icebergs and ice-drifts. There have been as many explanations as observers: and no two agree. The volcanic-explosion theory would have been of great benefit to those who have written upon this matter when accounting for the rock, etc., being on ice as well as on land. The only difference is that when these substances are on land, they come from a stray comet, passing millions of miles away, and, ninety-nine times out of a
hundred, land near the pole. How easy it is to apply the supernatural to matters we do not understand! It is more wonderful to account for a meteor striking the earth, near the pole, from a stray comet a few million miles away, than to have it come from the earth a couple of hundred miles away. Note what Greely says:
"Our traveling was for a long time along the icefoot at the base of very high, precipitous cliffs, evidently of schistose slate. They rose as sheer precipices, over two thousand feet above the level of the bay--solid rock, without a vestige of vegetation to cover their nakedness. Indeed, the only vegetation seen for some ten miles, traveling along these cliffs, was on the outlying spur of clayey earth at the point where our previous camp had been made. In one place a narrow cleft, apparently not more than a hundred feet wide and over a thousand feet deep, broke the continuity of the crest of the bluffs. At one point a rock which must have weighed several tons was lying on a large palæocrystic floe about a half a mile from the shore. I
visited and examined it, thinking it might have been brought from some other cliffs, but it was apparently of the same formation as those nearby. It is worthy of remark that this was the farthest point at which palæocrystic floes were seen in this bay--good evidence that they drifted from the polar ocean."
On page 373 he remarks "that about a mile southwest of the divide Biederbick picked up a piece of lignite coal, which resembles that of The Bellows and of the mines in Watercourse Bay. It seems somewhat remarkable that this coal is so widely spread over the country and that we should find it on the watershed of Lake Hazen."
Greely did not understand why coal was picked up on the watershed of Lake Hazen. It is not at all strange. It was dropped there after being thrown into the air by one of those volcanic explosions that produce the beautiful lights hitherto known as the Aurora Borealis, but hereafter to be known as the reflection of fire in the interior of the earth.
ROCK IN ICE.
The author claims that the rocks show in the above illustration were thrown into the air by a volcanic explosion, and dropped upon the berg while it was forming.
Kane found masses of detached ice floating out to sea--symmetrical tables two hundred feet long by eighty broad--covered with large angular rocks and boulders, and seemingly impregnated throughout with detrited matter. In Marshall bay these rafts were so numerous that, could they have melted as he saw them, the bottom of the sea would have presented a more curious study for the geologist than the boulder-covered lines of our middle latitudes.
Hall tells of an old floe, more than twenty feet thick, which grounded near the Polaris. On striking, it broke into many pieces, which, turning over, exposed massive rocks embedded in the ice.
Next: Chapter X. Dust in the Arctic